When I lived in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, there was one dry cleaners on Lebanon Pike that I always used. Every time I went in there, I would hear a woman’s voice shouting “Hello!” excitedly from behind the forest of clothes. She’d dig her way to the front of the shop and come around the counter and hug me, talking a mile a minute. (I know, like I have any room to talk!) She was energetic and funny and crazy all in one, which is my favorite kind of people.
The whole time she would try to get my information in order to take my clothes, she would interject compliments mid-sentence.
“Christy, when do you want this? You’re so pretty! Thursday okay? You’re so skinny! What’s your number . . . SO SKINNY!”
Naturally, I loved this woman. In fact, I started “needing” my dry cleaning done a few times a week just because every time that I went in there, she made me feel amazing about myself!
I don’t remember her name. I don’t even remember if she did a good job on my dry cleaning. But as the famous quote by Maya Angelou goes, I’ll never forget the way she made me feel.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working in a steaming-hot dry cleaning shop, or you’re a big fancy deal on Wall Street. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to a garbage collector, your kids, a stranger or your boss. We have the opportunity every day to do what my dry cleaning friend did—to make the other person feel amazing. We have the ability to make them feel worthy, loved, accepted and enough. We have the chance to make their day, lift their spirits, and bring them joy. We have the ability to change their outlook, their mood and their attitude—and therefore impact everyone else that person comes in contact with the rest of the day.
And all that it takes is kindness. Kindness is as simple as a compliment or word of encouragement, a smile or a hug. It is something that requires so little effort, but produces immeasurable results. Kindness is the smallest act with the biggest impact.
I guarantee you that my dry cleaning friend would never imagine that seven years later, I would be telling a story about how she impacted my life through her kindness. But that’s what kindness does. It’s throwing a rock in a pond that creates 1,000 ripples. Things are different and better, even though you may never see the full effect. And it all happens just because you told a customer dropping off her dry cleaning one day that she was pretty.
So let’s be generous with our compliments, lavish with our encouragement, and relentless with our kindness. The people we impact may never remember our name. And they may never remember even what we did exactly. But I assure you, they will never ever forget how we made them feel.